Episcopalians Celebrate “Nebraska Liturgy” – January 7th
Episcopalians throughout the diocese will celebrate a unique “Nebraska Liturgy” on Sunday, January 7, 2018 to mark the beginning of the diocesan sesquicentennial. In a letter to the diocese, the Right Reverend J. Scott Barker encouraged Nebraska Episcopalians “to raise their voice in beautiful common prayer to the glory of God in Christ, and in thanksgiving for this special place that we call home.”
The liturgy was created by a committee of clergy and laypersons, chaired by the Very Reverend Craig Loya, Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Omaha. “The committee’s goal was to create a liturgy that celebrated our unique and rich heritage as Nebraska Episcopalians,” explained Loya.
Designed to be flexible enough to meet the needs of congregations of all sizes, worship materials were developed to highlight both the sesquicentennial theme and the lectionary readings for the First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord. Members of the committee produced a collect, prayers of the people, blessing, and dismissal. Prayers for the day weave evocative historical and geographical images with the words of Nebraska authors and poets, including Willa Cather, Black Elk, John Neihardt, Ted Kooser, Mari Sandoz, Kent Haruf, and Charles Fort.
Nebraska hymn poet, Rae E. Whitney, composed a new hymn for the sesquicentennial celebration, “Sing God’s praise, Episcopalians!” Paired with a familiar tune (Stuttgart), the hymn is designed to be accessible for all congregations. An alternative version which can be sung throughout the sesquicentennial year is also available for general use.
For parishes with choirs or vocal ensembles, a newly published anthem by the Reverend William Bradley Roberts is available. The anthem, “Christ When for Us You Were Baptized” is downloadable from St. James Music Press (www.sjmp.com) at no cost, and parishes may make as many copies as needed. A downloadable recording is also available. “A common anthem allows us to create a virtual diocesan choral festival, with choirs singing together across Nebraska,” noted Marty Wheeler Burnett, Canon Precentor at Trinity Cathedral. “Although we are separated by vast distances, music draws us together and celebrates our common bond of service as Episcopal church musicians.”
All liturgical materials, including music, and detailed information are available online at http://q150.episcopal-ne.org/the-nebraska-liturgy.html. Parishes are encouraged to download these materials now and use them on January 7th. The website also includes all necessary information regarding copyright permissions, including a license to reproduce one recommended hymn from Wonder, Love, and Praise, a supplement to The Hymnal 1982. Email links are provided for anyone seeking assistance in accessing or using the materials.
“We are spread out over a large and beautiful state, and we follow Jesus in vastly different ministry contexts,” stated Loya. “Our hope is that the Nebraska liturgy fosters our sense of common identity and shared mission as we move together into God’s future.”
Marty Wheeler Burnett, D.Min.
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral